New Delhi: A Sessions Court in Tis Hazari witnessed some heated exchange between the prosecution and defence lawyers and some unusual observations were made as Additional Sessions Judge Dr Kamini Lau began hearing the bail plea of Bhim Army chief leader Chandra Shekhar Azad .
Appearing for Azad -- who has been under custody since December 21 over alleged violence during anti Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Daryaganj -- Advocate Mahmood Pracha pointed out that the first information report mentions charges against Azad in Uttar Pradesh.
The judge then asked the prosecutor about those charges. The prosecutor showed ignorance and told the court that he would find out.
The prosecution's response left the judge surprised.
Cornered after the initial arguments, the prosecution then brought on record some Facebook posts by Azad.
Pracha enquired about the posts from the prosecution. In response, the prosecution refused to share details with him.
Judge Lau intervened and slammed the prosecution, observing, "What privilege you are claiming?"
The prosecutor then read out a post by Azad wherein he had talked about going to 'dharna' (sit-in) in Jama Masjid area.
"What is wrong with 'dharna'? What is wrong with protesting? It is one's constitutional right to protest. Where is the violence? What is wrong with any of these posts? Who says you cannot protest? Have you read the Constitution?" the judge asked the public prosecutor.
She further observed, "You are behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India."
Referring to the posts of Azad, she observed, "None of these are unconstitutional. It is the right of citizen to protest."
The prosecutor said he needs permission. "What permission?" asked the judge, observing, "The Supreme Court has said repeated use of (Section) 144 (of Cr.PC.) is abuse."
She was referring to recent decision of the apex court Kashmir lockdown.
"I have seen many people, many such cases, where protests happened even outside Parliament. Many of them are chief ministers now. You show me as to which law prohibits someone to gather outside a religious place. Is there any evidence of violence by Azad? Do you think that the Delhi Police is so backward that it doesn't have evidence?" asked the judge.
The judge at a point described Azad as a "budding politician" and again asked, "What's wrong with protests?"
Advocate Pracha intervened and told the court that no case was made out and it is an attempt to curb dissent.
The prosecutor intervened and claimed that they have drone footage showing Azad making an "inflammatory speech".
Pracha objected and said Azad was only reading out the Constitution and was speaking against the CAA-NRC (National Register of Citizens).
He alleged "deliberate damage" is being caused to him and he was even denied necessary medical treatment.
Azad is suffering from 'Polycythemia' but he was being denied treatment at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS). He was later taken to the hospital after the judge slammed Tihar jail last week.
The hearing was adjourned till 2 p.m on January 15 after the prosecution sought time to produce the FIRs allegedly filed by the UP police against Azad.
Before adjourning the matter for Wednesday, the judge made a crucial observation, "The protests used to take place on roads even in colonial era. Your protests can be legal inside the courts also. People are out on the streets because things which should have been said in Parliament was not said. We have rights to express our views, but we can't destroy our country."